Zimbabwe latest: Embattled Mugabe in first public appearance


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Media captionMr Mugabe wore blue and yellow robes and a mortarboard hat

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has made his first public appearance since the army took over on Wednesday.

He attended a graduation ceremony in the capital, Harare, handing out degrees.

Mr Mugabe had been under house arrest for days.The army made its move after a power struggle over his successor.

The military said on Friday it was "engaging" with Mr Mugabe and would advise the public on the outcome of talks "as soon as possible".

Meanwhile Christopher Mutsvangwa - the leader of the influential war veterans' association, once loyal to Mr Mugabe - said he should step down at once.

He called for a huge turnout in street protests on Saturday.

"We want to restore our pride and tomorrow is the day...we can finish the job which the army started," Mr Mutsvangwa said.

"There's no going back about Mugabe.He must leave."

Liberal groups opposed to the president have also backed the rally.

The leader of last year's #Thisflag protests, Evans Mwarire, urged people to turn up.[3]

Image copyright AFP Image caption Mr Mugabe is chancellor at the Open University

Mr Mugabe's attendance at the graduation is an annual tradition but he was not expected this year.

BBC Online Africa editor Joseph Winter says he was allowed to be there partly to keep up the pretence that the military have not staged a coup and partly because of a genuine, deeply felt respect for him going back more than 40 years.

Mr Mugabe walked slowly up a red carpet and joined the crowd in singing the national anthem, then opened the graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe's Open University, where he is chancellor.

One of the people he conferred a degree upon was Marry Chiwenga, the wife of the general who detained him on Wednesday, the state broadcaster reports.

Neither the 93-year-old president's wife, Grace Mugabe, nor Education Minister Jonathan Moyo - an ally of hers whose house was reportedly raided by the military - were present.

The army acted after Mr Mugabe sacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week.

Mr Mnangagwa was seen as a potential successor and his sacking was supposed to have paved the way for Grace Mugabe - who is four decades younger than him - to take over the presidency instead.


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Media captionWho is Grace Mugabe?

It was thought she had left the country but it emerged on Thursday that she was at home with Mr Mugabe.

Uneasy calm in Mugabe's village

By Stanley Kwenda, BBC News, Kutama

To get to President Robert Mugabe's rural home you drive along the Robert Mugabe highway.

It's probably one of the best maintained roads in Zimbabwe, like driving on a carpet.Along the way you are greeted by a plaque erected in his honour.

Kutama is a small and tightly connected village where everyone knows each other.

You can't really tell if they've been rattled by the current political crisis.As we arrived there was an air of uncertainty.Mr Mugabe is respected here - to many he's a father and a friend.A 65-year-old neighbour of his told me:"He's kind, he's a good man and he understands people's plight."

The man goes to St Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church with Mr Mugabe, a devout Christian, whenever he visits.

"He never demands special treatment.He visits people to check on their welfare," said the man at his compound.

He said he supports the move by the army saying it's meant to correct a broken system.

"If his term goes out then there's nothing wrong," he said.

How did we get here?

Military vehicles were spotted on roads leading to the Zimbabwean capital Harare on Tuesday, sparking rumours that something was afoot.

Later, soldiers seized the headquarters of Zimbabwe's national broadcaster ZBC and loud explosions and gunfire were heard.

Major General Sibusiso Moyo then read out a statement on national television, assuring the nation that President Mugabe and his family were safe.

The military was only targeting what he called "criminals" around the president, he said, denying that there had been a coup.

On Thursday Mr Mugabe was pictured smiling as he took part in talks with an army general and South African government ministers at State House but sources suggested he might be resisting pressure to resign.

What's the reaction in the country?

Zimbabweans have been posting on Facebook and Twitter that there has been no dramatic effect on normal life.

People say that shops have opened as normal but there are few people on the streets of the capital.

Some Zimbabweans spoken to by the BBC have welcomed the news, with one man expressing his thanks to the army for "taking out the tyrant".


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Media captionZimbabweans react to the news that troops had taken control

What has the reaction been across the World?

  • US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged a quick return to civilian rule, but also said the crisis was an opportunity for Zimbabwe to set itself on a new path that includes democratic elections and respect for human rights
  • Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing was hoping for stability and a peaceful "appropriate" resolution
  • UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he hoped things would improve but also warned against a transition from "one unelected tyrant" to another
  • Botswana's President Ian Khama told Reuters news agency that regional leaders did not support Mr Mugabe staying in power, adding:"We are presidents, we are not monarchs"
  • Alpha Conde, the chairman of the African Union, a key regional bloc, said the takeover "seems like a coup" and demanded a return to constitutional order

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Mistakes in benefits claims could cost up to £500m


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Media captionESA claimant Peter Cartwright:'People need this money to live'

Mistakes in paying out benefits claims could cost up to £500m to put right, the BBC has learned.

The errors identified by the Department for Work and Pensions affect the main sickness benefit, the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

The BBC understands that assessors wrongly calculated the income of around 75,000 claimants.

Ministers say that they are aware of the problem and that repayments have begun to be made.

The department, which says it discovered the mistakes last December, is understood to have contacted about 1,000 people so far.

It says it is still trying to understand the scale of the problems with ESA, which is paid to about 2.5 million people, and will contact anyone affected.


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Media captionMr Field said people had been 'wrongly impoverished' as a result of the errors

Frank Field, chairman of the Commons work and pensions select committee, said the problem was on a scale of "historic proportions".

He said:"I'm still gobsmacked at the size and the nature and the extent and the coverage of people that have been wrongly impoverished by the department getting it wrong."

The BBC understands that the errors affected people who applied for ESA between 2011/12 and 2014/15 - claimants after that date are understood to have had their benefit correctly assessed.

On top of money to be paid back, the Treasury will have to pay for the staffing and processing of repayments.

Analysis:Little has changed

This extraordinary error is the latest problem to beset a troubled benefit.

When Labour introduced ESA in 2008, they claimed the change would move a million people off sickness benefit and save the Treasury £7bn.

The coalition embraced the benefit with open arms, again hoping to save money by moving people off incapacity benefit and onto ESA faster than planned.

Little has changed.Back in 2006/07, 2.7 million people were receiving the main sickness benefit at a cost of £12bn.In this financial year, ministers estimate 2.4 million people will get ESA - at a cost of £15bn.

For claimants, the changes have meant undergoing health assessments to prove their illnesses, which some say has created stress and anxiety.

Mistakes began in 2011 when the government started moving benefits recipients onto ESA - which is paid to those with long-term health conditions that are not going to improve.

ESA was introduced by the Labour government in 2008[1] to replace incapacity benefit.

At the time of that migration, an independent expert working for the Department for Work and Pensions, Professor Malcolm Harrington, urged ministers not to proceed until he was certain the system was robust.

The department said it only became aware of the problem in December 2016 after the Office for National Statistics published fraud and error figures for the social security system.

Heating or food?

Peter Cartwright, who was one of those moved from incapacity benefit to ESA due to mental and physical health problems, said the errors were "disgusting".

"People need this money to live," said Mr Cartwright, who does not yet know if he was underpaid.

"It's not as if you can go and get loads of luxuries when you're on this benefit."

The 54-year-old from County Durham said people on benefits often had to make the choice between food and heating, adding:"If people are getting underpaid that means they're not getting through."

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The DWP said it was "currently reviewing the historical benefit payments of claimants"

Many of those eligible for ESA may also need to apply for universal credit - a benefit for people with a health condition or disability which prevents them from working.

Universal credit is already experiencing its own problems[2] - with reports of IT issues, overspending and administrative errors.

Successful applicants for ESA are paid the benefit either on the basis of having made enough National Insurance claims, or because they are on a low income.

In calculating how much income a claimant is entitled to, benefit assessors have to work through a variety of factors, such as what other benefits someone might be on, how much they earn from any work or whether there is any other income coming into the household.

In a statement, the Department for Work and Pensions, said it was aware of the issue and "currently reviewing the historical benefit payments of claimants"....

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Gaia Pope case: Third murder suspect is released


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Media caption"Every minute we were away from Swanage was torture"

A 49-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder following the disappearance of teenager Gaia Pope has been released while inquiries continue.

Paul Elsey, confirmed as the suspect to the BBC by his father, is from Swanage.

Murder detectives are focussing their forensic investigations on homes, cars and an area near a coastal path where women's clothing was found.

Miss Pope's family confirmed the clothing matched what she was believed to be wearing the day she went missing.


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Media captionSearch teams have scoured land on the Dorset coast Image copyright Gaia Pope Image caption Gaia Pope was last seen in Swanage on 7 November

Mr Elsey is the third person to be arrested in the inquiry.

He is believed to be known to 19-year-old Miss Pope, who went missing from Swanage on 7 November.


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Media captionMiss Pope's father said the search has been the "toughest thing" to go through

Mr Elsey lives with his mother Rosemary Dinch, 71, who, along with her 19-year-old grandson, Nathan Elsey, was arrested on suspicion of murder on Monday.

The pair were released on Tuesday while inquiries continue.

Forensic investigations are continuing at two properties in Manor Gardens, where those arrested are believed to live.Police have also seized three vehicles.

Image copyright Matt Cardy/Getty Images Image caption Land close to where the items of clothing were found is being extensively searched

A black jacket Miss Pope was wearing in CCTV images taken at St Michael's Garage, Swanage, on the last day she was seen was recovered from an address in Manor Gardens.

Search activity involving coastguard teams and Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue's Technical Rescue Unit is focused on several fields nearby.

Det Supt Paul Kessell, of Dorset Police, said:"The clothing located south of Priests Way appear to be Gaia's and her family have confirmed they match what she was believed to have been wearing the day she went missing."

Image copyright Matt Cardy/Getty Images Image caption A search is being carried out on land surrounding the coast path on the Purbeck coast Image copyright Andrew Matthews/PA Wire Image caption Gaia Pope has not been seen since 7 November

Miss Pope's cousin, Marienna Pope-Weidemann said the family were "desperate for answers" and urged people to "get out there looking for her".

"It's been a profoundly shocking 24 hours.Obviously the discovery of those clothes was incredibly distressing for the whole family," she said.

Search volunteer Ian Messenger, who works at Swanage Dairy, said people were "pulling together".

"It's just been surreal," he said."The town seems sort of subdued at the moment, it's usually quite vibrant.

"Everyone's out searching at night, early in the mornings.We at the dairy, we've handed out over 1,000 leaflets to all of our customers with our milk."

Image caption Marine teams have been searching the foot of the Purbeck cliffs

Nico Johnson, editor of the local Purbeck Gazette, said the search effort was "phenomenal".

"We've got people walking for miles and miles in teams, they've covered towns, rural areas, gone door-to-door in coordination with police.A lot of information has been brought forward," she said.

"Purbeck is a really strong community, when something happens they are fully behind each other.People are getting to the point of exhaustion - they just want to find Gaia now."

Miss Pope, who is from Langton Matravers, has severe epilepsy and is thought to have gone missing without her medication.

Earlier this week, her mother, Natasha Pope, urged people to look in vans, garages and houses in case she was being kept against her will.

Image caption Police are searching homes in Morrison Road, Manor Gardens, where the three people arrested on suspicion of murder are believed to live

The search for Gaia

Image copyright Gaia Pope

7 November:Miss Pope is driven by a family member from Langton Matravers to Swanage.At 14:55, she is seen on CCTV inside St Michael's Garage buying ice cream and at 16:00 her last confirmed sighting is at an address in Manor Gardens on Morrison Road

8 November:Her family make a personal plea through the police for her to get in contact.Ch Insp Steve White, of Dorset Police, says the force is "becoming increasingly concerned"

9 November:Dorset Police renews its appeal to find the 19-year-old.Searches have been carried out in the Swanage area, with support from the coastguard and police helicopter.Miss Pope's family release a statement saying they are "frantic with worry"

10 November:CCTV footage is released of Gaia on Morrison Road, Manor Gardens, at 15:39 on 7 November.

13 November:Search warrants issued at two addresses in Swanage.Rosemary Dinch and Nathan Elsey are arrested on suspicion of murder and later released under investigation

14 November:Searches continue with the coastguard and volunteers from Dorset Search and Rescue and Wessex 4x4

15 November:CCTV images of Miss Pope at St Michael's Garage are released.Searches continue to concentrate inland, supported by neighbouring police forces

16 November:Paul Elsey is arrested on suspicion of murder.Women's clothing is discovered in a field near Swanage and a police cordon is set up...

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Jamie Oliver bans daughter, 14, from posting selfies

Jamie serves saladImage copyright PA

TV chef Jamie Oliver has said he has banned his 14-year-old daughter from sharing selfies, describing them as the unhealthy "sugar of social media".

"We ban Daisy from doing selfies and mainly she doesn't, but a couple slip up," the father-of-five told the Lifestyle News Hound[1] podcast.

Oliver, 42, says he is among the first generation of parents learning to deal with children sharing photos online.

He and wife Jools regularly post family photos on their own Instagram pages.

But Oliver, a prominent campaigner for healthy eating, described teenage girls' use of Instagram as "frightening".

'Pouty lips'

He said:"I'm going to generalise massively here, but from my observation so far, at 13 to 14, the kind of pictures that girls are putting up, just from what I've seen, split off 50:50.

"[There's] normal young girl, and then this weird hybrid of - dare I say it - quite porno sort of luscious kind of pouty lips, sort of pushing boobs out."

He said he did not "even want to look" at photos of other girls that 14-year-old Daisy had shown him.

"I'm like really?Are their parents not over that like a rash?"

However, Jamie[2] and Jools Oliver[3] are not against Instagram itself - and frequently post snaps of family holidays and days out that they are happy to share with the public.

Oliver added:"Because of the 'like' thing, it's kind of almost the sugar of social media.

"It's a quick way to get some kind of pat on the back or love."

The NSPCC charity has told parents it is vital to spot inappropriate behaviour online - and has a Net Aware[4] guide to social media sites young people are using.

The charity identified a number of risks for children using Instagram, including strangers following them and people taking screenshots and sharing photos without their permission....


  1. ^ Lifestyle News Hound (soundcloud.com)
  2. ^ Jamie (www.instagram.com)
  3. ^ Jools Oliver (www.instagram.com)
  4. ^ Net Aware (www.net-aware.org.uk)

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Complaints or sympathy? How noisy neighbours affect home life

A little boy playing with a toy drumImage copyright Getty Images

The news of a family who had been threatened with eviction[1] from their London flat after their neighbours complained about their crying baby, received mixed reactions on social media and among our readers.Some sympathised with the parents while others agree with the neighbours' response.

Many of you have shared your experiences of living with young children and living next to young families.

Dreading bedtimes

Anon from Guernsey: I had a family with a toddler rent the flat next to me - I own my flat.Every night the toddler would wake up screaming several times a night waking me up.

It was miserable being woken up like that and not having the power to do anything.I use to dread bedtimes.

I feel for parents having sleepless nights but it also means people suffer around them.

Jamie from London: I live in a ground-floor flat with my wife and 15-month-old daughter.Like all children, she wakes up at the crack of dawn and makes considerable noise.We are extremely conscious of this, but there is very little you can do with a toddler at that age.

Thankfully, to our current awareness, our neighbours haven't said anything to us.And until house prices, deposits and nursery costs drop, we will remain in this current situation, despite our London wages.

Image caption The Wurth family were told they might be evicted because their baby was crying

Noise impacting on work

Chris from Essex: Much as I sympathise with the family, what about the people suffering the noise?I am in my current privately-rented flat for almost a year.

In mid-June, a couple moved into the flat above me with their baby.The noise has gradually got worse and worse.Though not one to complain, I eventually had a word with the landlord who spoke to the tenants.

However, the noise continues.To make matters worse I work from home, so it is impacting on my work.In order to sleep at night, I have to close all doors and wear earplugs, yet still the noise comes through.

I blame the landlord for putting them in there in the first place, that and not having proper insulation.Having spoken to the landlord again, he told them to end the noise or else they would be asked to leave, which of course puts me in a bad light.

Lisa from London: I've been issued with a noise nuisance letter.I'm also in a converted flat on the ground floor having three under five-year-olds in a tiny flat with very thin plasterboards.

I get scared if one of them wakes during the night needing the toilet as this is what upsets my neighbours upstairs.I'm not happy and feel very isolated.I have to isolate my children in their own home or go out for hours just to keep them busy.

I was running around so much I became poorly and had nobody to look after them.Now I'm to blame myself for this too.What else can a young mother do if complaints are constantly being made?My children are so young.They need to feel comfortable in their own home!

Image copyright Getty Images

'Parents aren't miracle workers'

Anon from the UK: We lived in a rental flat with an autistic child who, admittedly, was noisy but we always did our best to keep the noise down during the night.But our neighbours and the property management company were not understanding at all and would constantly harass us, even complaining about the noise during the day.

We were always polite and courteous but it caused immense stress and anxiety for us, in addition to the normal difficulties in dealing with a special needs child.Luckily for us, our landlord was understanding, although we eventually moved to a more family-friendly area.I totally sympathise with the parents who are stuck in this situation.

Eman from London:The capital is so cramped, it's not easy to find a good private home for families with young children.

I have two boys under three years old and just moved to a private ground-floor flat.My eldest son who is possibly autistic - which we are waiting for a formal diagnosis - means there's a lot of unexpected tantrums and screams, as a means of communication, and the normal cries and noise a one-year-old will make.

It's noisy and loud having children at that stage, but it's perfectly normal.What can you do about kids?They will make noise.Get on with it, have a better understanding of life.If it's that bad, you can always use ear plugs or move out.

It sounds harsh, but I have young children.I would hate to be evicted from my home with my children because they are being children.Parents are not miracle workers to make them go quiet.

Quietness is something we yearn for.We deal with it as families, we expect you to deal with it as a society.

Produced by Paul Harrison, UGC and Social News team...


  1. ^ threatened with eviction (www.bbc.co.uk)

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